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Boom in entrepreneurs expected after ban on Saudi women driving lifted

Sara Al-Madani said Saudi women are ‘graceful, smart and educated.’ (AN Photo)
SVETI STEFAN, Montenegro: More local women are likely to become entrepreneurs after the ban on them driving is lifted in Saudi Arabia, according to a prominent Emirati fashion designer and businesswoman.
Sara Al-Madani, an entrepreneur and board member of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI), said: “I’m so happy about this, the women in Saudi (Arabia) are a huge wealth and it needs to be properly invested into the economy.
“Imagine the effect it will have when millions of women can move and get to work. It will transform the country and it’s undeniable that force will have a big impact.”
Al-Madani, founder of Sara Al-Madani Fashion Design and the new British restaurant Shabarbush in Dubai, added that not being able to drive has never stopped women from setting up their own business ventures, but “this freedom opens up more opportunities for them so we will see more women on board.”
The entrepreneur, speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the recent Global Citizen Forum, said that the word “innovation” is now trending globally.
“I tell everyone, before you innovate in business or at your work, you need to innovate in yourself, you need to believe in yourself and break the stereotype.
“You need to stand up for your rights and believe in your dreams and accomplish them and, once you’ve done that, you can innovate externally … Women are strong, we just need inspiration.”
Al-Madani ventured into the business world at a time when very few Emirati women were doing so. Defying cultural norms, she started her fashion label Rouge Couture, now known as Sara Al-Madani Fashion Design, at the age of 15.
In 2014 Al-Madani, now 30, was selected by Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, ruler of the UAE emirate of Sharjah, as a board member of the SCCI.
Al-Madani also runs the creative consultancy Social Fish, and is a brand ambassador for Nivea and Natura Bissé in the Middle East.
She said: “This is just the beginning (of freedoms) for Saudi women. I wish the Saudi women all the best — they are graceful, smart and educated.”

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